A rise in the number of credit/debit card scamming devices – known as “skimmers” – popping up at gas stations throughout the Miami Valley has caught the attention of area county auditors and weights and measures inspectors, many of whom attended the Gas Pump Skimmer Summit on Wednesday in Trotwood.
One of the attendees – Champaign County Auditor Karen Bailey – said the summit, which was hosted by Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith, focused on how county officials can help to assist and educate gas station personnel on what to be on the lookout for in hopes of preventing customers from having their credit or debit card information stolen while filling up their gas tanks.
How the scam works is con artists place credit card skimmer devices inside gas pumps to rob consumers of their credit or debit card information.
Bailey said during the summit, attendees were provided scenarios showing how quickly the skimming devices are installed, and how it’s done without anyone noticing.
“They generally target the pumps farthest from the view of the gas station attendant,” Bailey said, adding many of the skimming devices are outfitted with Bluetooth technology which allows the scammers to access private information from a distance up to 100 yards away.
While skimmers have been found inside numerous gas pumps around the Miami Valley, scam artists have yet to target any pumps in Champaign County.
“My inspector (Dave Dickinson) has not found any skimmers in our county, but we have only checked gas pumps,” Bailey said. “A few weeks ago, my inspector began checking the pumps and having discussions with gas station personnel regarding this issue. We plan to continue checking all the pumps at all the stations.
“We have encouraged gas station personnel to contact the authorities if they see anything suspicious,” she added.
To avoid becoming a victim of the gas pump skimming scam, Bailey said, there are precautions people can take when filling up their vehicles.
“People should be extra careful when using the pumps farthest away from the view of the gas station attendant,” she said. “If the face of the pump is ajar or open, they should notify the gas station attendant.
“Other options are to pay inside instead of at the pump, and to use cash instead of using a debit/credit card.”
Bailey also recommends people look closely at their monthly bank and credit card statements to check for any fraudulent charges.
Joshua Keeran may be reached at 937-652-1331 (ext. 1774) or on Twitter @UDCKeeran.